Australian Cameron Donald was visibly edgy before last night’s opening practice sessions for this year’s International North West 200, but the Relentless by TAS Suzuki pilot can be forgiven for showing some pre-event nerves.
The 31-year-old Melbourne lad is making his international road racing return after a forced 11-month sabbatical, following his crash at last year’s Isle of Man TT races.
But nerves aside, Donald can’t wait to get cracking on the North Coast this weekend in front of an estimated audience of 100,000 spectators.
“I really enjoyed my day out at Cookstown a few weeks ago as it got me back into the groove for racing between the hedges,” explained Donald.
“It’s a bit different to the international scene but racing against Ryan is always a good test and the local crowd at Cookstown are always very supportive.”
Donald’s team-mates in the Relentless Suzuki outfit, Bruce Anstey and Alastair Seeley, have notched up 11 wins between them at the North Coast event, but Donald is yet to get off the mark, losing out by the narrowest of margins on more than one occasion, as he explained.
“Yeah it’s a bit strange that I haven’t been able to notch up that first win at the North West,” he shrugged. “I suppose I haven’t had the best of luck at the North West in past years, and you certainly need a bit of luck around here. Philip and Hector have supplied me with the best GSX-R Suzuki machinery available for this season, and the boys have been working flat out in the workshop, so all is looking good for some top results right across the board.”
Donald’s first North West was back in 2005 and since then he has always enjoyed the local atmosphere, but the Aussie has never hidden the fact that the TT is number one on his priority list for 2010.
“The TT is my main goal this year, but that doesn’t mean we wont be looking for some top results here at the North West,” he added. “All the top riders are chasing wins for their sponsors and we are no different at Relentless Suzuki.”
With a new daytime practice session on Thursday, Donald believes he will get the best out of his machines in preparation for Saturday’s races, and unlike a number of his peers, he is unruffled about the new Mather’s Cross chicane.
“The new chicane will make us all that little bit sharper this week, but the longer session on Thursday will also give us more time to familiarise ourselves with it,” he said.
“It’s the same for everyone and I’m more than happy with how I’ve been riding since my return — so I’m really up for Saturday and intent to be circulating in that front group in all races. Where will I finish? Let’s wait and see what happens on Saturday.”